August 15, 2010

Strike a Pose: An Introduction to XNALara

Did you play with Barbie dolls or action figures as a kid? Do they still reside in a secret drawer and come out late at night to fight evil and model the latest fashions? Guest blogger Crimsomnia has left her doll collection behind, but today she shares her passion for posing virtual action figures with XNALara.

XNALara is a realtime posing program created by a fan, Dusan Pavlicek, which allows you to pose character models from Tomb Raider: Underworld however you want, create scenes and eventually save screenshots of your work.

Screenshot of XNALara workspace (click to enlarge). Jumpkick pose created by toughraid3r37.

Most people use it to create pictures (wallpapers, etc.), while some use it in conjunction with other programs, like Maya, Photoshop and 3ds Max, to create more complex and detailed renders. One can even use it to make their own animation videos through frame-by-frame animating.

Lara render by Scia using XNALara and 3ds Max
(click to enlarge)

Asleep on the Job by Ryu-Gi
"Asleep on the Job" by Ryu-Gi (click to enlarge)

To answer your question, you don't need Tomb Raider: Underworld to run this application! Basically any Windows computer can run XNALara as long as you have two apps (Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft XNA Framework). Download links for the XNALara program and supporting files can be found here.

Now, for the fun part! You can have loads of fun posing Lara and the rest of the characters in any way you like and make any kind of pictures, from official-looking wallpapers to your idea of how Lara spends her free time at the manor. The coolest thing about XNALara is that your screenshots look as if they came straight from the game.

Doppelganger wallpaper by poker15
Doppelganger wallpaper by poker15 (click to enlarge)

Into the Light by Crimsomnia
"Into the Light" by Crimsomnia (click image to enlarge)

There's a bit of a learning curve at first, but the program is very easy to use once you get the hang of it. There's also a thorough Manual written by LaraRules81 for beginners to get you started. If you find you need more help, the sites linked below include tutorials and forums where you can ask questions.

The possibilities are endless here. As a devoted XNALara fan said, with this program, the only limit is your imagination. You may get interested in modding, which is basically modifying the models' appearance from head to toes, or even mesh-modding, where people create new models for XNALara. As a result, XNALara has become a pole of attraction for lots of different people and not just Tomb Raider fans. It has brought the Tomb Raider community together into one big creative family, through which a great number of fan artists have emerged.

Have fun!
XNALara animated gifAnimated gif made by Phenyx using XNALara.

Lara vs. S.I.M.O.N. XNALara animation by toughraid3r37 (bestraider56 on YouTube).

  • Dusan's thread on Tomb Raider Forums where he presented his work. Includes download links for the program and supporting files. (Also look for other XNALara threads with objects, models, poses and more.)
  • – The first community entirely dedicated to XNALara, where you can upload your own creations, discuss XNALara matters or technical issues in the forum and download resources.
  • DeviantArt XNALara Group - Includes hundreds of gorgeous images made with the program.

Crimsomnia is a 20-year-old, Greek journalism & mass media student with great love for music and Tomb Raider. XNALara was her motivation to start making Tomb Raider fanart pics, and she's been addicted ever since. Visit her DeviantArt page to see more.

All images and videos are the property of their respective creators and were used with permission. Please do not copy/borrow them without first obtaining permission from the artists.

Comic: Privacy Raider by Ryu-Gi. Made using XNALara. Inspired by a certain yellow sticky note found in Croft Manor... (click to enlarge)


  1. A long time has passed since Madonna sang "strike a pose"... Now Lara's doing it and OMG OMG OMG I LOVE YOU SO MUCH CRIMSOMNIA AND STELLA. This is an amazing tool, and I'm always looking for new Lara wallpapers and they are always the same... Not anymore :D THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  2. Cool! Thanks for using my picture :D
    But the render Scia made is rendered in Maya not 3ds max
    and the lara vs simon vis is by toughtaid3r37

  3. Hey Stella, what are the requirements for XNA?

  4. Hey, Matt. I'm not sure but you could try asking on some of the forums. The TRF XNALara board is at and has a message board as well. Or if you use Twitter, ask @Crimsomnia, the author of this article. She'll probably know or be able to find out.